Catching Up With Ewan Pearson

We love Ewan Pearson. There we said it. Why? Well, first of all he’s one of our favorite DJs on the planet, never failing to be totally on point with his sets, whether it’s a small intimate loft jam (like Mister Saturday Night this weekend) or a summer festival in Europe. But he’s also a thoroughly nice bloke, a friend and undoubtedly one of the most intelligent men in dance music, with something insightful and inspiring to say each time we talk to him. So we had to pin him down again to get his thoughts on a couple of topics on our mind ahead of the next installment of Mister Saturday Night…

Mister Saturday Night: You’re the first artist we’ll have hosted at Mister Saturday Night in both its incarnations – as a party at a club and a party at a loft. Do you tend to play differently at clubs than you do at underground parties? And do you prefer one type of venue to another?

Ewan Pearson: I hope that I vary what I do from place to place according to size and feel of the venue – it’s all seat of the pants stuff pretty much. But Mister Saturday Night club stuff has been great, so a loft should be even better. It’s great when things feel like it’s just some big impromptu private bash.

MSN: Tell us a little bit about Manchester’s Delphic, whose album produced by you is coming out in early January.

EP: Delphic are a 3 piece from the North West, very euphoric electronic pop, definite shades of Factory in there along with some dance sensibility and a real emotional wallop. The album took most of the first half of the year to do, and it’s pretty dense and big in places but with intelligence. I love the guys and I’m pretty proud of what they’ve done.

MSN: How’s your recent residency at Robert Johnson been going? Do you treat a residency different from your touring gigs?

EP: It’s been lots of fun – the RJ is one of those clubs that you feel privileged to be able to play at all, let alone on a regular basis – it’s pretty much a perfect small club with an educated crowd. I can play slower or deeper or all over the place. One of the great things about being a regular there is that I’ve brought in guests and then played warm-up for 3 hours. I love being able to build a night rather than always being helicoptered in as the guest. You can set the tone and be a great deal more musical. l learnt my chops being a resident at a night in London called Come Shake The Whole where I played from 8pm to 3am and the first 3 or 4 hours were amazing – seeing how long you could go before you topped 120BPM and that kind of thing. Been bringing that back at the Robert Johnson gigs, too.

MSN: A lot of dance music producers are only involved in the production of their own music, yet you’ve had a fairly extensive career of producing others’ music. How does producing others’ music differ from producing your own? And how does it help you in your own work as a DJ and a producer?

EP: I like producing other people a lot more than producing myself – but that’s maybe because I suffer from the blank sheet of paper terribly like many people. And I get bored of myself when it’s just me. I like to have somewhere to start with. It’s a whole different discipline as you’re as much a referee, psychologist, headteacher, scourge as much as you are a musician in that kind of situation. But I really love editing and mixing and helping to pick out the best ideas and shape them, and I’ve been pretty lucky to work pretty much only with people that I’ve got on really well with and become great friends with. So there’s camaraderie there, too.

MSN: It’s been about ten years since Discographies, the book you wrote about dance music with Jeremy Gilbert, was published. From an intellectual standpoint, what has been the biggest change in dance music and its culture since then?

EP: Wow. An easy question, huh?! I guess for me the big questions are all around reproduction, distribution and ethics. I think we need to nurture an ethical culture around music in response to the fact that it can be got for free without trying at all hard – people have to be encouraged to put something back in and support scenes rather than freeloading or taking all the time. Because it’s no good just ringing your hands and saying it’s inevitable that music is now “free”. It’s too free to be expensive and it’s too expensive to be free.

MSN: Well played… Here’s an easy one. What’s in store for 2010?

EP: I’ve got several new releases ready for my label Misericord, including new EPs from Al Usher and October, there’s Delphic’s record in January, a new album from Tracey Thorn in the spring, too, which is finished and sounding great, plus I’ve done a mix CD for Kompakt which is coming out in February. That’s called “We Are Proud Of Our Choices” – an exclusive. You heard it here first, folks. And I’m starting to do a couple of new production projects for some new artists – early days on those, but we’ll see.

MSN: Excellent! Well, we’re looking forward to it all. And we’re especially looking forward to seeing you this weekend.

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